Chapel Hill Residential Parking Permits Expire July 31

It’s time for residents of Chapel Hill who live in the residential parking district to renew your parking permit set to expire on July 31.

Applications for a new parking permit for the 2016-2017 year are now being accepted.

Residents may apply for a permit only if they live on a street where parking is prohibited and there is no practical way of parking the car off the street.

The permit is $25 per year and the fee is waived if you are 65-years or older.

The Town of Chapel Hill will also be selling three-day and 14-day Temporary Residential Visitor Parking Permits. Residents are allowed to purchase up to 10, three-day permits for $2 each and up to five, 14-day permits for $10 each. Guest permits are still available for 24 hour parking.

You can get more information on Chapel Hill residential parking permits here.

Parking Still Biggest Challenge in Proposed Franklin Street Development

The Chapel Hill Town Council received an update on potential plans for redevelopment of the parking lot at 415 W. Franklin St in late June.

The members of the council gave town manager Roger Stancil a few more months to gather more financial information with developers and potential partners for the project.

Plans for new development always call for a need for more parking spaces in Chapel Hill, and Stancil says officials need to plan for the future of downtown.

“Because it’s an existing parking lot, we need to find a way to provide parking to make the project successful. Losing 65 spaces, new uses, new demands downtown for parking, we need to plan for future growth downtown. The proposal is to build a 450-space deck,” Stancil said.

In April, a proposal for the project called for the town to donate the land, valued at $1.7 million, and pay an additional $500,000.

Another option was presented in late June to have the developer pay a market-rate for the land and the town would then contribute money to build the parking garage for an estimated $13 to $15 million.

Since the newest proposal is such a high investment for the town, Stancil provided some ways the council could collect more money to put this project into place.

“Funding options for the parking deck could include, raising the parking rates 20 percent for all the fees and fines that are charged for parking downtown,” Stancil said. “Another is delaying some other projects and a third is to increase the debt fund tax rate by .6 cents which would provide the funding for the parking deck.”

The issue with the additional space that would be needed for the parking deck is that there are multiple owners of that land that may not be willing to sell. Stancil said they have considered speaking with the university to potentially partner with them to build a parking deck.

Council member Nancy Oates said she was pleased to hear the partnership consideration.

“The university does have those lots on Rosemary Street, and I’m glad to hear that you’re not limiting yourself to a parking deck that is contiguous to the 415 West. That area has a lot of challenges because of the number of owners and some of them don’t want to sell,” Oates said. “That’s going to be a difficult problem to overcome, but if you can talk with the university and use some of their property on Rosemary Street that would be great.”

The Council chose to provide more time for Stancil and staff to gather additional information from the developer and explore potential partnerships. They will present the findings at the first council meeting in September.

Free 2-Hour Saturday Parking in Downtown Chapel Hill in July

Downtown Chapel Hill parking will be a little cheaper in July as the town begins a new free parking program.

There will be free two-hour meter parking on the streets of downtown Chapel Hill every Saturday in July.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said he hopes that this program will be a great way to help bring attention to the downtown area this summer.

“We heard from our merchants downtown that the summertime, as things slow down in Chapel Hill, this might be a nice way to stimulate activity and get a little attention. And we thought that was a neat idea.”

Since this program only applies to Saturdays in July, Chapel Hill’s Parking Superintendent, Brenda Jones said there are other affordable ways for businesses to bring customers downtown.

“We have ticket booklets where you have 100 hours worth of parking for $75; you can give those to your customers. We have token programs – the more that you purchase, the less it costs you so it’s based on volume,” Jones said. “We have validation programs where you create a validation stamp, you share it with us and we approve it so you can stamp those for your customers. We also have a mobile parking app that’s called Park Mobile, so merchants are actually able to set up their own accounts where they can give their customers a code, punch that in and they can pay for their own customers.”

Chapel Hill wants more visitors to enjoy their experience downtown without worrying about parking tickets. Blue reminds visitors of the courtesy-ticket program for first time violators.

“We also recognize that, particularly, visitors to a community – and we have many visitors who come here for a variety of reasons – they may not always understand your parking rules or they may have missed a sign or so on, so we do have a courtesy-ticket program for first-time violators,” Blue said. “We’ve issued over 26,000 courtesy tickets, which tells you that we support that notion that you can make a mistake, we’ve all made them. We don’t want you to have a bad feeling about Chapel Hill and certainly not as a result of a parking experience.”

This Saturday will be the first day visitors can take advantage of the free parking. A similar parking program goes on during the month of December as holiday shopping begins.

Public Meeting on Parking in Carrboro Set for Thursday

Parking can be hard to come by at times throughout our community, and the Town of Carrboro launched a study to better understand the statistical patterns behind parking in the town.

Now, as the study has reached its mid-point, the town is holding a public meeting to discuss the status of the town-commissioned parking study. The meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 Thursday evening in the Town Hall Board Room.

The meeting will provide background information on the project so far, parking data already collected, stakeholder feedback and potential strategies for future parking management.

For more information on the study click here.

Carrboro Board of Aldermen Get Update on Parking Study

Despite concerns about the amount of parking in downtown Carrboro, a town commissioned study has found that only half of available spots are filled during the busiest hours during the week.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen heard an update on April 5 from Timothy Tresohlavy, with VHB engineering, the firm conducting the parking study on downtown Carrboro.

The goal of the study is to measure how many spaces are available in downtown Carrboro and to help plan for future growth.

Tresohlavy said one of the next steps is to gauge parking on the weekend and during events like the Farmer’s Market.

There are about 4,000 parking spaces in downtown Carrboro; 82% percent are privately owned, 9 % are town owned and another 9% are spots leased by the town.

Total parking peaks in downtown Carrboro between 11 and 1, according to the study, but even during that period only half of the spots are taken.

“So there are a peak number of cars during lunchtime in the whole downtown parking study area it’s still only half full,” said Tresohlavy.

Certain lots, however, like the town owned one on Rosemary Street remain near capacity for most of the day.

The study has also collected 400 responses from the public through an online survey.

Responses included the need for proper signage describing the parking rules, which may explain why occupancy rates are low despite concerns about the amount of spaces available.

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle noted another concern about employees of downtown businesses using public lots, opposed to where they work.

“I do think that employees use our public parking, in addition to students, teachers and so on, but I think out of [the study] it would be good if we had some sort of long term solution and way to deal with that need of employee parking,” said Lavelle.

The survey also asked about biking, walking and public transit habits so future infrastructure improvements can better serve the community.

Even if you don’t live in Carrboro you are invited to give your input. Another public meeting will be held in either June or July.

CH Parking Fund Depleted As 140 West Revenues Lag

Business Management Director Ken Pennoyer told the Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday that the underground parking deck at 140 West is not as popular as town officials had hoped.

“We know it is less than what we had anticipated; it is certainly less than what it was when Lot 5 was a surface parking lot, in terms of occupancy,” said Pennoyer. “We expected that, ultimately, over time, people would return to that area to park, however, the dynamics between parking underground and parking on the surface are apparently different in terms of people’s behavior. So folks have kind of not used it to the same extent.”

The $55 million dollar complex of condos and retail was built atop what used to be a town-owned parking lot at the corner of Franklin, Church and Rosemary streets.

Chapel Hill partnered with Ram Development to build the two-level underground parking deck, with one level owned and operated by the town as public parking.

But since opening in 2013, parking revenues at 140 West have not met expectations, and Pennoyer said this is negatively impacting the town’s parking fund.

“The parking fund had built up a fund balance, so in the past few years we had been eating into that fund balance, however, the revenues have not caught up enough to carry us further than Fiscal Year 2016,” said Pennoyer. “In FY16, basically the fund’s cash reserves will be exhausted and it will need a subsidy.”

Pennoyer recommended shifting the debt from the 140 West project out of the parking fund to be paid using the town’s debt management fund.

“Currently, the parking fund is paying for the debt service that created the parking deck at 140 West. If we were to have the debt fund take over the payments for that debt, it would bring the parking fund back into alignment temporarily. We would kind of use that as a bailout to solidify the fund.”

He noted this would not a permanent fix and doing so would reduce the town’s ability to borrow money by about 10 percent. Pennoyer, along with Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, suggested that in the short-term, lowering the price of parking at 140 West might be a way to draw in more drivers.

The Council will consider how to best balance the parking fund as part of the 2016 budget planning process. The first public budget forum is scheduled for February 23.

You can read the full update on town finances here.

Parking, Water, Beer, Business, And Education!

ORANGE COUNTY – Chapel Hill is adding a new parking lot downtown: on Monday, February 3, the town is opening the Courtyard parking lot, located at 115 South Roberson Street near the west end of Franklin. Town staff say there will be 53 spaces available at the new lot. (There are about 1200 available parking spaces in all in downtown Chapel Hill.)


Earth Policy Institute founder and president Lester Brown will be on campus Tuesday, February 4, lecturing on the future of agriculture in a world of dwindling water.

The lecture is entitled “Peak Water: What Happens to Our Food Supply When the Wells Go Dry?” It begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Global Education Center. It’s free and open to the public.


Starting in April, ARCA will begin assembling CM18 cash recyclers at its manufacturing facility in Mebane, transfering operations from Italy. The move will make the Mebane facility the only one in the U.S. to produce cash recyclers, used by banks and credit unions to speed its balancing and inventory functions.


Twelve Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School teachers have recently earned National Board Certification: Melissa Nicholson-Clark and Samantha Howard of Morris Grove Elementary; Susan Azzu, Agnes Bernasconi, and Ashley Laver of Rashkis Elementary; Christine Cohn of Estes Hills Elementary; Jennifer Pedersen of Northside Elementary; Lisa Myles of McDougle Elementary; Miles Chappell of Phillips Middle; Beth Kinney of McDougle Middle; Holly Loranger of Chapel Hill High; and Jenny Marie Smith of East Chapel Hill High. Congratulations to all twelve!

North Carolina leads the nation in the number of teachers certified by the National Board.

Another recognition for UNC: the Princeton Review has ranked UNC-Chapel Hill as the number-one public university in the nation on its 2014 list of America’s “Best Value Colleges.”

UNC has long been recognized as a national leader in preserving affordability and accessibility while simultaneously providing a high-quality education and maintaining high graduation rates.

NC State also made the Princeton Review’s list, as the number-four public university in the nation. Williams College in Massachusetts ranked first among private universities.


Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are participating in North Carolina’s first official pilot test with school buses filled with propane autogas, an alternative fuel designed to lower gas costs while also reducing toxic emissions.

The North Carolina Propane Gas Association is promoting the new technology in conjunction with Triangle Clean Cities Coalition and Triangle Air Awareness. They say propane autogas can reduce emissions by 80 percent compared to diesel fuel.

Other districts participating in the pilot program include Union, Brunswick, and Nash-Rocky Mount.


Carolina Brewery is celebrating its 19th birthday with events beginning on Wednesday, February 5 and running through Saturday the 8th–including the debut of a new “Anniversary Ale” and a pint glass giveaway on Friday the 7th.

Visit for a full schedule of events.

Carrboro Aldermen Debate Downtown Parking

CARRBORO- The Board of Aldermen wants to hire a consultant to conduct a comprehensive study of the availability of residential and business parking around the downtown area, but board members differ on what should be the ultimate goal of the town’s parking plan.

Sammy Slade said he’d like to see reduced parking downtown to encourage public transit and limit vehicle emissions.

“We just had a typhoon in the Philippines, we’re likely to have disasters here, and we’re supposed to be a town that’s leading the way in mitigating climate change,” said Slade. “It is very frustrating to not be able to register this reality and move forward with a bold plan.”

Others, including Jacqueline Gist, disagreed, saying such a move could hurt downtown businesses.

“I cannot say ‘reduce the number of parking spaces and support our downtown businesses and keep downtown accessible,’” said Gist. “I think the study will give us some facts to do that, but I’m not going to support something, the premise of which is come up with a plan that reduces parking.”

Mayor Mark Chilton said while he sympathized with Slade, the request to lower the current number of spaces is not consistent with the town’s growth plans.

“There are other aspects of where our planning is headed for the downtown area that call for additional businesses and additional residences to come into the downtown area,” said Chilton. “It seems to me it is not very realistic to think of continued growth without having some continued growth in the amount of parking.”

Chilton suggested that changing the parking ratio for future developments might be a workable alternative.

The town collaborated with UNC students in 2008 to conduct a parking survey, but Randee Haven-O’Donnell said it’s time to update the plan as conditions downtown are rapidly changing.

“You know the data that’s in there is based on the lots that existed or were in use at the time, but things are changing, and I think it’s important for us to look at what’s really on the ground now and what’s going to change in the next year or two,” said Haven-O’Donnell.

The comprehensive parking plan outlined by town staffers would not only include a survey of available business and residential parking, it would also lay out a policy for managing the town’s parking supply.

Although board members agreed on the need for such a plan, the potential $100,000 consultant fee gave some pause.

“Obviously one of the issues here is the cost of undertaking a project like this. It has pretty big implications for a budget the size of ours,” said Damon Seils. “There will need to be some discussion about that.”

The board directed staffers to refine the proposal and said they want to gather public feedback to clarify the goal of the parking plan. Funding for the project will likely be discussed at the board’s planning retreat scheduled for early next year.

Aldermen To Create Downtown Parking Plan

CARRBORO – Carrboro Aldermen will consider creating a downtown parking plan when the board meets Tuesday.

Town staffers say it could cost approximately $100,000 to hire a consultant to help draft the plan, which would examine the availability of residential and business parking around the downtown area and outline ways to manage the town’s supply of parking.

The board will also consider whether or not to continue to partner with Orange County to provide residential recycling pick-up once funding runs out for the current curbside service in June of 2014.

In addition, the aldermen may take a stance on a plan put forward by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board to move Spanish dual language students out of Carrboro Elementary. The plan drew fire from parents at last week’s school board meeting. Two of the seven aldermen spoke publicly against it and pledged to bring the issue before the board for a vote.

The board meets at 7:30 p.m. in Carrboro Town Hall.


Landlord Sues Over Northside Parking Limits

Parking at a residence on Carver Street in the Northside neighborhood before parking limit was put in place. Photo courtesy of Hudson Vaughn.

CHAPEL HILL – You could see a change in Northside neighborhood, as landlords who rent property there are suing Chapel Hill over a parking regulation.

Mark Patmore is the owner of Mercia Rental Properties and one of the landlords suing the Town. He’s challenging a limit put in place by Chapel Hill last fall limiting the number of cars that can be parked in front of Northside properties at four vehicles per residence.

In addition, duplexes and triplexes are allowed up to six vehicles and renters can get five street parking permits per lease.

A state Superior Court has already denied the motion to get rid of Chapel Hill’s rule, but Patmore says this is expected and this case needs to go to the state Supreme Court because it is a state issue.

“That authority comes from the state, so that’s where it belongs, which will be, not in superior court or appeals, but supreme.” Patmore says.

Benjamin Sullivan is the attorney with Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP who is representing Chapel Hill in this case. He says there is precedent for even the state Supreme Court to side with towns when it comes to parking restrictions.

“Towns and counties have had parking regulations in one form or another and those have been challenged, based on the idea that they were beyond the authority of the local government that adopted them,” Sullivan says. “Our Court of Appeals and our Supreme Court have said, ‘No, those are regulations that are within the zoning powers that local governments have in North Carolina.”

Sullivan adds that, although parking is not included in the zoning statues, it is still within a town’s legal authority to make regulations like the one in Northside.

“The zoning statues are intentionally very general,” Sullivan says. “They’re a pretty broad grant of authority and it’s up to the towns, cities and counties to decide which regulations are appropriate.”

Parking at a residence on Carr Street in the Northside neighborhood before parking limit was put in place. Photo courtesy of Hudson Vaughn.

Parking at a residence on Carr Street in the Northside neighborhood before parking limit was put in place. Photo courtesy of Hudson Vaughn.


Patmore says that Chapel Hill’s restrictions on parking not only hurt him as a landlord, but force visitors to homes in Northside into an unsafe situation where they have to park away from the residence and then walk there, possibly alone or at night.

“I think every resident in this town has the right to be able to park at their home if they have the place to park,” Patmore says.

Part of Chapel Hill’s parking limit in Northside was to prevent visitors and others from parking on lawns and crowding yards and streets.

Hudson Vaughn is the associate director of Northside’s community development center, the Jackson Center. He says that before the parking limit, there was a high volume of cars being parked on Northside properties.

“It felt in the neighborhood like a lot of the front and back yards of houses were turning into, basically, parking lots,” Vaughn says.

Now, Vaughn says there are still parking violations, but overall the neighborhood looks better.

“There’s a lot fewer cars and cars are often parked more in the back now and there’s tighter regulations that landlords are putting on for front yard parking for the look of things,” Vaughn says.

Patmore says when he built rental property in Northside, the town required him to put in a parking area.

“I went ahead and constructed that parking area and now, 10 years later, they’re turning around and saying, ‘You did a good job, but now you can’t use it,’” Patmore says.

At trial, Patmore also argued that the fines imposed by the town for the parking violations are unfairly distributed because they go to him and not the residents doing the actual parking.

Patmore says he passes the fines onto his tenants and includes in his leases that tenants must obey the parking ordinance.

Sullivan says this method of fining better enforces the parking limit than directly fining the renters.

“The landlords have the ability to better regulate what they’re tenants do than we can,” Sullivan says. “It’s a more effective enforcement mechanism if the property owners are held responsible by the town, because they’re in a position where they can have these lease agreements with their tenants and can control what their tenants do.”

Patmore says he sees it differently.

“It’s arbitrary and capricious,” Patmore says. “They’re fining the landlord or the owner of the property for something they absolutely have no control over. I have no control over my tenants when they have visitors over.”

Vaughn says the issue with parking in Northside is symptomatic of property in the neighborhood being over-occupied by student renters.

“It’s all connected to the impact that student rentals in particular are having, especially when there are more than four students in a house,” Vaughn says.

Violating the vehicle limit results in a $100 fine from the city, with an additional $100 for each day the excess car remains.